This week, actor Paul Reubens, who created and portrays Pee-wee Herman, was a guest on “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,” NPR’s weekly news quiz show. While talking with host Peter Sagal about some Pee-wee projects that never materialized, Reubens mentions a breakfast cereal, Pee-wee Chow, that was this close to being produced by Purina:

SAGAL: During the time of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” back in the 90s and the movies, we understand that, like, you had plans to create a Pee-Wee empire, like make a Pee-Wee cereal?

Mr. REUBENS: Yes, there was going to be Pee-Wee Land. There was going to be – I actually talked Purina, the Purina Company into doing my cereal. And it was going to be the first time that they ever allowed the checkerboard to be put on something other than pet food.

SAGAL: Oh really?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. REUBENS: So my cereal was going to be called Pee-Wee Chow.

Be sure to “read more” to see the entire excerpt about his proposed cereal (and the commercial that would have made it a classic!), and for a link to the entire interview on NPR’s website.

Reuben’s continues:

Mr. REUBENS: And it was going to have the checkerboard on it. And the commercial for it was going to be a mom, a 1950s mom pouring a bowl and putting it on the floor and kids, like, crawling up and eating it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Why didn’t you go ahead with this? This would have been great.

Mr. REUBENS: Oh, believe me, it wasn’t my choice. I’m heartbroken about it, especially when I hear everybody laughing at it, because I thought it was such a great commercial.

SAGAL: It’s fabulous.

Ms. FAITH SALIE (Contributor, CBS Sunday Morning): Paul, what would it have tasted like?

Mr. REUBENS: Oh, you know what, it tasted exactly like Trix, which was my favorite cereal when I was a kid.

SAGAL: Sure.

Mr. REUBENS: But it turned out, kids didn’t like it. They wanted a sweeter cereal.

SAGAL: Did you serve it to them on the floor, though, and encourage them to crawl up to it? Because any kid worth his salt would love that.

Mr. REUBENS: Yeah, that’s what I said too. But it turned out that I wasn’t involved in the taste testing portion of it.


Mr. REUBENS: And I doubt if that’s what happened. I think they probably just, you know, get a bunch of kids and poured bowls of cereal. And they all must have just gone, like, oh, what the hell is this?

You can listen to the interview, or read the full transcript, on NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” website, where Reubens also reveals the truth behind the also-nonexistent Pee-wee Land theme park. Check it out!

Photo via Gunaxin.

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